World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 9 February 2015

Protest Campaign - Ukraine, 9 February 2015

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For the attention of:
Mr. Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine
Mr. Groisman, the Head of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Mr. Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine


9 February 2015


Mr President,
Your Excellencies,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), to express our concern about the proposal to introduce an advertising ban on certain products in Ukrainian mass media.

According to reports, Ukraine's political parties have reached an agreement to ban advertising of  "over the counter" pharmaceutical products in Ukraine. We consider this approach to be contrary to international practices and damaging to the financial independence of private news media at an essential point in your country's history. Such a ban is estimated to reduce advertising revenues across the Ukrainian press by 10 per cent.

Advertising is an essential source of revenue for news media, making a vital contribution to the independence and pluralism of the press sector. Governments should avoid the introduction of any bans, restrictions or mandatory information requirements on the advertising of legally available products, which would make advertising in newspapers less attractive, resulting in a real threat to the financing of quality press content.

A full prohibition of pharmaceutical drugs advertising is contrary to the European Union standards, and existing regulatory restrictions are already sufficient. We understand that legislation in Ukraine already bans advertising of prescription drugs and requires certain advertising placing and marking for over the counter drugs.

The new restrictions being proposed for Ukraine are nearly absent elsewhere. Media across Europe are free to advertise such products, with the exception of Norwegian television (all other media in Norway are free to advertise these products). In the post-Soviet countries, only Azerbaijan implemented such a ban, doing so in 2006. But the restrictions were withdrawn in 2010 following in a dramatic decline in the pharmaceutical market.

According to reports, the introduction of a ban on pharmaceutical advertising would also contravene the obligations of Ukraine under the Association Agreement with the European Union, Amendment XXXVIІ (“Audiovisual industry Policy”), Chapter 15, Part V, which specifies that Ukraine shall adapt the legislation according to Directive No. 2007/65/EU of Audiovisual Media Services which specifies the prohibition of advertising of prescription drugs only as it has been currently implemented by Ukrainian legislation.

We respectfully remind you that, instead of restrictions on advertising, a more common approach to health concerns is the implementation of special information programs aimed at promoting preventative measures and diagnostics, healthy living, and health education. Such programs benefit both the population at large and the health management system and are supported by pharmacists and doctors.

We respectfully urge you to oppose the proposed restrictions on over the counter pharmaceutical advertising, and ensure they will not be introduced in Ukraine. Such advertising bans are destructive for the media and ineffective for society.

We respectfully ask for your consideration and your understanding of the importance of including Ukrainian media needs in the process of mass media legislation reforms.



Larry Kilman
Secretary General


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2015-02-09 13:49

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...